If Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, thought he was going to have a smooth sail in America where he went for an event, he must have undermined the resolve of Nigerians in the diaspora to effectively mobilize and ridicule government officials in order to send a strong message of discontentment with the situation of things at home.
Members of the New York-based Nigeria Liberty Democratic Forum (NLDF) had earlier today staged a dramatic flash protest that forced Labaran Maku to abandon New York City Day Independence parade. The parade is an annual event organized by the Nigerian government and some Nigerian organizations in the US.
The NLDF protesters were led by Bukola Oreofe, an official of the group. The protesters had joined the colorful parade from 51st Street and 2nd Avenue when word spread that Mr. Maku was the “Parade Marshal” and led a troupe of Nigerian diplomats who waved the Nigerian flag at different groups as they danced the Nigeria House on 44th Street.
The NDLF members staged their traditional protest march past the Nigerian government officials. Shortly after, the protesters penetrated the area where the Nigerian minister and other officials were and began a flash protest. The protesters sang protest songs against the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Facing the minister, they shouted, “Go Home!” They also accused Nigerian officials of corruption and insensitivity to the plight of the vast majority of Nigerians.
One of the protesters told a correspondent of SaharaReporters that Mr. Maku “should return to Nigeria and sympathize with millions of Nigerians who are currently besieged by a massive flood disaster that has affected 22 states.” So far, the floods have claimed the lives of 148 Nigerians.
Other protesters demanded that the minister help to fix Nigeria’s myriad problems to ensure that Nigerians can celebrate their Independence Day in public without fear of terrorist attacks.
As the protests became charged, the Nigerian officials called in police officers from the New York Police Department to drive the protesters away. However, the NYPD officials showed no inclination to force out the protesters. Instead, the officers stood guard around the protesters to forestall any breakdown of law and order.
Once it became clear to the Nigerian delegates that NYPD officers would not force the protesters to leave, Mr. Maku and the diplomats left the stage and hurriedly retired inside the Nigeria House. Their disappearance brought the parade to an abrupt end.
The jubilant protesters continued to sing protest songs and addressed onlookers about the deplorable condition of their country. They warned that more protests against Nigerian officials visiting the US would be planned and staged.